Heroes of the Fourth Turning

A Strange Loop, Heroes of the Fourth, and more receive 2020 Obie Awards

The awards honor the best in Off- and Off-Off-Broadway.

Recipents of the 2020 Obie Awards were announced on Tuesday night in a pre-recorded streamed ceremony, hosted by Cole Escola. Presented by the Village Voice and the American Theatre Wing, the Obie Awards celebrate the best in Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater, and this year's awards honored a shortened season due to the Covid-19 theatre shutdowns. 

Michael R. Jackson's A Strange Loop and Will Arbery's Heroes of the Fourth Turning both picked up multiple honors, earning awards for both writers and special citations for both casts and creative teams. Both productions premiered off Broadway at Playwrights' Horizons, and the company's artistic director, Tim Sanford, received a lifetime achievement award alongside actor Vinie Burrows. A third playwrighting honor went to Haruna Lee for her play Suicide Forest, which premiered at Ma-Yi Theater Company.

Former Obies Award chair and longtime Village Voice critic Michael Feingold received a special citation for his work, and in future years, an annual award will be given out in his name. 

Unlike other awards, the Obies do not announce nominees and designate awards by categories. Instead, the nominating body distributes honors based on the highlights and merits of the season. 

A complete list of honorees is below. 

Lifetime Achievement
Tim Sanford
Vinie Burrows

Will Arbery, Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Playwrights Horizons)
Michael R. Jackson, A Strange Loop (Playwrights Horizon, Page 73)
Haruna Lee, for the conception and writing of Suicide Forest (Ma-Yi Theater Company, Bushwick Starr)

JoAnne Akalaitis, MUD/Drowning (Mabou Mines, Weathervane Productions, The Days and Nights Festival)
Kenny Leon, Much Ado About Nothing (The Public Theater)
Whitney White, Our Dear Dead Drug Lord (WP Theater, Second Stage, by special arrangement with Benjamin Simpson and Joseph Longthorne)
Les Waters: Sustained Excellence in Direction

Camille A. Brown: Sustained Excellence in Choreography

Liza Colón-Zayas and Elizabeth Rodriguez, Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven (Atlantic Theater, LAByrinth Theater Company)
Emily Davis, Is This A Room (Vineyard Theatre)
Edmund Donovan, Greater Clements (Lincoln Center Theater)
April Matthis, Toni Stone (Roundabout Theatre)
Joe Ngo, Cambodian Rock Band (Signature Theatre)
Deirdre O'Connell, Dana H. (Vineyard Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Center Theatre Group)

Yu-Hsuan Chen, set design for Our Dear Dead Drug Lord (WP Theater, Second Stage, by special arrangement with Benjamin Simpson and Joseph Longthorne)
Mikhail Fiksel, sound design for Dana H. (Vineyard Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Center Theatre Group) and Cambodian Rock Band (Signature Theatre)
Andrea Hood, costume design for Public Works (The Public Theater)
Arnulfo Maldonado: Sustained Excellence in Set Design
Jen Schriever: Sustained Excellence in Lighting Design

Institutional Recognition
National Black Theatre, for sustained excellence in production and continued advocacy on behalf of Black artists
Page 73, for providing extraordinary support for early career playwrights
The Tank, for providing extraordinary support for emerging artists

Special Citations
The creative team and ensemble of Heroes of the Fourth Turning
Cast members Jeb Kreager, Julia McDermott, Michele Pawk, Zoë Winters, and John Zdrojeski; set designer Laura Jellinek; costume designer Sarafina Bush; lighting designer Isabella Byrd; sound designer Justin Ellington; director Danya Taymor

The creative team and ensemble of A Strange Loop
Cast members Antwayn Hopper, James Jackson, Jr., L Morgan Lee, John-Michael Lyles, John-Andrew Morrison, Larry Owens, Jason Veasey, and Elijah Caldwell; director Stephen Brackett; choreographer Raja Feather Kelly; set designer Arnulfo Maldonado; costume designer Montana Levi Blanco; lighting designer Jen Schriever; sound designer Alex Hawthorn; hair, wig, and makeup designer Cookie Jordan; orchestrator Charlie Rosen; music director Rona Siddiqui; composer and vocal arranger Michael R. Jackson

David Cale, for the writing and performance of We're Only Alive For A Short Amount of Time (The Public Theater)

Dave Malloy, Or Matias, and Hidenori Nakajo for their collaboration on the music and sound of Octet (Signature Theatre)

David Neumann and Marcella Murray, for the creation and performance of Distances Smaller Than This Are Not Confirmed (Advanced Beginner Group, Abrons Arts Center, Chocolate Factory Theater, Mabou Mines)

Tina Satter, for the conception and direction of Is This A Room (Vineyard Theatre)

Alexandria Wailes, for Sustained Excellence as an Artist and Advocate

AAPAC (Asian American Performers Action Coalition) for advocacy in the field of equity, diversity, and inclusion

Michael Feingold, for Extraordinary Service to the Theater

Watch the 2020 Obie Awards ceremony

Originally published on

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